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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Eresidae (velvet spiders, social spiders, buck-spoor spiders)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthropoda > Arachnomorpha > Cheliceriformes > Chelicerata > Euchelicerata > Arachnida > Araneae > Araneomorpha

The Eresidae include groups with very diverse lifestyles. The various genera can be identified by their different but specific webs. They are harmless to man.

The family can be recognized by a blunt face and rectangular carapace with 4 median eyes grouped together while the 4 lateral eyes are widely spaced. The cribellum is situated ventrally just anterior to the spinnerets in the form of a cream band. The abdomen is round to oval and the legs short and stout. All eresids are terrestrial (ground living) except for the arboreal (plant living) Stegodyphus.

The most commonly seen genera are Gandanameno and Dresserus to which the common name velvet spider applies more specifically. They are bulky spiders up to 18 mm in length and normally covered in black velvet-like setae (hairs) (hence the common name). The abdomen is similarly coloured or speckled with cream or the spider can also be brown.

Velvet spiders are found under rocks or bark resting in a sheet of dense white silk and are often confused with baboon spiders. They can live up to 5 years. The female rarely leaves her retreat and feeds on prey that she overpowers if they wander too close to her hide.

Genera indigenous to southern Africa

Gandanameno (velvet spiders - part)


Dresserus (velvet spiders - part)  
Stegodyphus (social spiders)
Seothyra (buck spoor spiders)


  • Miller, J.A., Carmichael, A., Ramírez, M., Spagna, J., Haddad, C.R., Řezáč, M., Johannesen, J., Král, J., Wang, X.-P. & Griswold, C.E. 2010. Phylogeny of entelegyne spiders: Affinities of the family Penestomidae (NEW RANK), generic phylogeny of Eresidae, and asymmetric rates of change in spinning organ evolution (Araneae, Araneoidea, Entelegynae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 55: 786–804.

Text by Norman Larsen ©.